Assessing The Education And Social Capital Sociology Essay Example
Assessing The Education And Social Capital Sociology Essay Example

Assessing The Education And Social Capital Sociology Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 13 (3337 words)
  • Published: October 7, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Robert Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone, attributes the term "social capital" to Lyda J. Hanifan, a rural pedagogue who wrote about the role of schools as community centers in a 1916 essay. While Putnam's research is commonly referenced, James Farr, a conceptual historian, argues that Putnam's understanding of the term is limited. Farr contends that "social capital" had a broader usage during that time, particularly by John Dewey, a prominent figure in the movement that Hanifan was a part of. Farr speculates that Hanifan likely derived the term from Dewey's work. Furthermore, Farr traces other uses of the term, including its connection to corporate ownership of property and profit from labor. Farr's exploration of the concept's history enhances our understanding of social capital by highlighting the wider prevalence of its combination with economic language before other theorists acknowledged it. T


his research also places Dewey's critical pragmatism within the lineage of the concept. Dewey was an influential thinker in these movements and played an active role in many of them.Dewey himself employed the term (see quote p 10) and his conceptual model and linguistic communication drew upon and developed the idea of working together to establish shared bonds (of understanding and cooperation) which served as an asset for individuals in communities. Farr highlights three significant points regarding Dewey's utilization of social capital: firstly, the need to balance criticism with construction; secondly, the value of comprehension; thirdly, the merging of "social" and "capital" to create a persuasive effect. Dewey focused on the relationship between school and society, and the potential contribution of education to empower rather than constrain social capital. Striking a balance between criticism and

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

construction lies at the core of critical pragmatism - (p10) crises prompt critical reflection that generates ideas to guide action in addressing the crisis. Sympathy "involved not only the common sense of feeling concern or compassion for others, especially those lacking life's necessities, including social capital", but also the ability to imagine and connect with others in different situations (p11). In schools - "each individual is provided an opportunity to break free from the limitations of their social group of origin, and engage with a wider environment."(Democracy and Education, 1916, p20) (See also JS Mill) - Dewey's usage of economic terminology in critical pragmatism is illustrated by Farr, who mentions examples such as "fresh talent" being referred to as "idle capital". Dewey and Hanifan's use of "social capital" closely aligns with Putnam's, idealizing specific forms of social interaction and community life. It also considers the interaction between institutions (education and administration) with individuals and groups, and the potential restructuring of these institutions to meet collective needs. The period between the 1920s and 1980s saw various sociologists using the term, including Glen Loury and Jane Jacobs, none of whom had a specific interest in education. Another important development during this time was the emergence and popularity of "human capital", with Gary Becker credited for developing the theory of investing in education, training, health, etc., similar to physical capital. This laid the foundation for Coleman's subsequent work.Coleman and Bourdieu, two prominent sociologists in the late 1980s, developed two major ideas on societal capital. Bourdieu's comprehensive treatment on societal capital can be found in his 1986 essay titled "The Forms of Capital," which was translated by Richard Nice

and published in an English anthology (Bourdieu 1986). On the other hand, Coleman's article, "Social capital in the creation of human capital," was published three years later in the American Journal of Sociology (Coleman 1989). Despite organizing a conference together in 1989 and editing its proceedings (Bourdieu and Coleman 1991), the development of their concepts has occurred independently without any mention of each other's work. It is remarkable how these two strands have largely ignored each other, particularly from Bourdieu's perspective (Fine 2001; Field 2003). Consequently, the literature on societal capital since the 1990s is predominantly based on the Coleman tradition, primarily due to Coleman's influence on Robert Putnam and the continued impact of Coleman's original studies.Field (2003) categorizes Putnam's work as a third strand in relation to Bourdieu and Coleman. However, I argue that Putnam aligns closely with Coleman's concerns about neighborhood influences and voluntary associations, as well as his understanding of the origins and benefits of social capital.


Both Bourdieu and Coleman define social capital in a similar manner, emphasizing its functional value as a resource available to individuals. According to Bourdieu (1986), social capital refers to the sum of existing or potential resources that are tied to membership in a network of relationships characterized by familiarity and acknowledgment. This membership provides individuals with the support of collective-owned capital, serving as a "certificate" that grants them recognition within the group.

Similarly, Coleman (p98) defines social capital as connections formed among actors, and highlights its usage value. Social capital is not a singular entity but rather an assortment of various entities, all sharing two common elements: they are rooted in social structures and

they facilitate certain actions of actors, be it on an individual or collective level within those structures (p98).( Coleman 1989 ) Later researchers, including Woolcock, OECD, Foley, and Edwards, have refined the definitions proposed by Coleman, distinguishing between webs and norms as the two components of societal capital. Portes emphasizes that the rank of a web or group is the foundation of societal capital and the benefits that can be derived from it ( Portes 1998 ). Foley and Edwards go further and define social capital as both access to networks (webs) and resources (Foley and Edwards 1999). Putnam argues for the inclusion of trust as a component of social capital, along with networks and norms (Putnam 2000), while Woolcock prefers a more precise definition, considering trust as a product rather than a constituent part of societal capital ( Woolcock 1998 ).

Both Coleman and Bourdieu view societal capital as a resource inherent in social relationships, which individuals and institutional agents can utilize for various purposes. They both acknowledge that societal capital can interact with and be exchanged for other forms of capital, although Bourdieu provides more detailed explanations on this interaction ( Coleman 1989 ).Coleman's main focus is on the relationship between societal capital and human capital, recognizing that these interactions may have limitations. He notes that societal capital, like physical and human capital, is not completely interchangeable and can be specific to certain activities. What may be valuable in one situation could be useless or harmful in another. Coleman argues that societal capital is not solely owned by the elite and can compensate for other forms of capital to some extent. His framework for

understanding this is based on rational action, but acknowledges that social relationships cannot be stripped away from individuals. He highlights the importance of network closure, where your friends know each other and particularly when you are friends with the parents of your children's classmates. Coleman identifies three key elements of societal capital: obligations and expectations, which rely on the trustworthiness of the social environment; the ability of social structures to facilitate information flow; and the presence of norms backed by sanctions. He provides the example of diamond traders in New York to illustrate how a dense network enables the establishment of collective norms and effective sanctions, resulting in a highly trusted market.The context of relationships creates inducements and countenances that guide rational behavior. In contrast to Bourdieu's focus on category groupings, Coleman emphasizes the importance of the household and vicinity. According to Coleman, the presence of effective norms and countenances within the immediate household is crucial for educational attainment, particularly with the role of mothers in fostering this environment. Coleman argues for a distinction between "aboriginal" and "constructed" societal structures. Coleman's work has faced feminist criticism for its patriarchal view of the family, as well as criticism for prioritizing strong ties over weak ties. In Bourdieu's framework, societal capital interacts with economic and cultural capital, with cultural capital being more important in his theory of social structure. In Bourdieu's terms, actors compete for capital within different "Fields" of activity.The text suggests that complex societies consist of multiple fields, each operating with its own unique principles. While certain fields may have dominance, such as the economic field in capitalist systems, they are not completely reducible to

a single moral force. These fields are made up of relationships, where individuals or institutions hold positions based on their distribution of capital. Some actors have more capital and therefore exert dominance over those with less, while others have different compositions of capital that place them in distinct relationships within the field. The position of an actor is determined by the historical accumulation or reduction of their capital through exchanges shaped by existing relationships and the "rules of the game" regarding the value and conversion of different forms of capital.

On the other hand, Bourdieu's and Coleman's views on societal capital differ in terms of their philosophical perspectives. Bourdieu focuses on access to institutional resources, while Coleman emphasizes norms.As previously mentioned, Bourdieu conceptualizes societal capital as being present in a hierarchically structured societal field. Similar to other forms of capital, elites hold a disproportionate amount of societal capital. According to Jenkins (1992), there is a tendency for existing power relations to perpetuate themselves, with little belief from Bourdieu that the existing structure can be challenged. What distinguishes Bourdieu's perspective from Coleman's is the degree to which the development of societal capital is seen as a deliberate strategy. Coleman views it more as an unintentional process, with individuals primarily concerned with their own interests. Baron, Field et al. (2001) state that Coleman sees societal capital as a byproduct, where individuals may unintentionally diminish their societal capital while pursuing personal goals. For example, a mother returning to work may inadvertently reduce her involvement in school activities, resulting in a loss of societal capital for other families associated with the school. On the other hand, Bourdieu sees the creation

of social relationships as an ongoing effort, where the web of relationships is formed through conscious or unconscious investment strategies aimed at establishing or reproducing relationships that can be used in the short or long term (Bourdieu 1986, p. 249).Bourdieu places emphasis on the unconscious aspects of transmitting cultural capital. He suggests that children in environments abundant with cultural capital unknowingly absorb its advantages. He perceives the education system as a means of transmitting cultural capital, with examinations and similar processes serving as mechanisms to make cultural capital visible and validated. Bourdieu contends that the education system becomes more significant when social hierarchies based on lineage are questioned. Bourdieu is highly critical of rational action theory (RAT), which is part of Coleman's tradition. However, Jenkins argues that some of the accusations made by Bourdieu can be turned back on him. Bourdieu asserts that RAT replaces a culturally and historically situated rationality/interest with an arbitrary one. In doing so, RAT substitutes its analytical model for reality and places the dynamism of social life in "pure" individual and conscious decision-making, rather than in the personal and collective histories that shape social reality. This impedes a theoretical understanding of relationships between individuals and between individuals and their environment. However, Jenkins argues that by completely rejecting RAT, Bourdieu creates a problem for his theory because he denies the role of conscious decision-making - people do form plans and strive to implement them.(Jenkins 1992) argues that Bourdieu's theory of involvement is more sophisticated than Coleman's, as Bourdieu highlights the exclusionary nature of groups and questions the type and beneficiaries of societal capital. In the educational literature, Baron, Field, and Schuller

(2001) propose a threefold categorization of societal capital usage: analysis, prescription, and heuristic. The recent literature on societal capital and education has largely focused on replicating Coleman's studies, particularly examining different migrant populations in the USA, using large datasets not initially intended to capture aspects of societal capital (Dika and Singh 2002).Coleman used the following indexes: (within household) parents' presence, number of siblings, mother's expectations for child's education, and (outside household) number of moves (as a placeholder for intergenerational closure). His research on the differential performance of students in Catholic and other religious schools has been replicated by others (Coleman 1989; Coleman 1990). Recently, the Catholic Education Office in Victoria published similar work on the effectiveness of Catholic schools (Sheehan 2004). In contrast to Coleman's emphasis on "bonding" social capital, Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch examined educational attainment and social capital regarding students' own social networks and their access to "bridging" information-related support such as personal advice on academic decisions, future educational and occupational plans, and access to legal, health, and employment services (Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch 1995). They discovered a more complex picture in which bilingualism and associated cultural capital played a significant role in students' access to information sources and institutional resources (p132). Grades showed a positive correlation with three different informational network variables: number of school-based weak ties, number of non-kin weak ties, and proportion of non-Mexican origin members.Dika and Singh (2002) refer to the work of Stanton-Salazar and Dornbusch as an example of how Bourdieu's theory of societal reproduction and the interaction between cultural and societal capital can be applied to understand the institutional aspects of societal capital formation.

The concept of social capital

has gained significant interest among policymakers, with some even referring to it as the "missing nexus" (Grootaert and Van Bastelaer, 2002). International organizations such as the World Bank and OECD have enthusiastically embraced the use of societal capital in policy development. However, there have been sharp criticisms of the World Bank's approach to societal capital (All right, 2001; Harriss, 2002). Some scholars have warned that societal capital may only serve as a means to leverage existing resources rather than create new ones (Field, 2003).

Despite these criticisms, Harriss argues that the theory of societal capital has led to a focus on local development and self-help strategies. However, he also acknowledges that this approach can sometimes place excessive expectations on marginalized individuals to overcome their circumstances, which conveniently aligns with those advocating for cuts in public spending (Harriss, 2002).

In contrast, there has not been a similar level of criticism towards the OECD's policy recommendations on societal capital and education.There is a significant body of literature from the OECD on societal capital and human capital, with a notable contribution from the Quebec symposium of 2000 (Helliwell 2001). This literature is influenced by the idea that education plays a crucial role in the creation of societal capital (Schuller 2001), following in the footsteps of Dewey and Hanifan who advocated for education as a key aspect of social reclamation. However, there is a risk of overburdening schools as an intervention point (Pamela Munn p 181).

Social capital has been embraced as a way to incorporate different forms of education into the discourse, specifically continuing, adult, informal, and vocational education (Winch 2000; Balatti and Falk 2001; Kearns 2004). For example, Richard Barrett's

review of Christopher Winch's book on vocational education and social capital acknowledges Winch's achievement of elevating vocational education to be taken seriously by philosophers of education through his arguments about its civic aspects (Barrett 2004). Schuller et al.'s synthesis of their longitudinal research on the benefits of learning includes both "taught" and "non-taught" learning (Schuller 2004). There have been fewer studies on the institutional implications of social capital, with Barry Golding's work on networks in ACE being an exception (Golding?).The survey conducted by Persell and Wenglinsky examined the civic engagement of students at different types of colleges. Barry Golding has also studied the use of web technology in education to understand the relationships between communities and organizations in a specific region. The findings by Persell and Weglinsky showed that the type of institution attended had an impact on civic engagement, with for-profit college students being less likely to vote or participate in political processes compared to community college students.

Further investigation should explore the connection between education and social capital, considering networks and norms. Education plays a crucial role in creating both immediate social support and access to institutional resources through relationships formed in school and other educational forms. Additionally, the educational process shapes ideology, habits, behaviors, and models of cooperation and conflict. Suggestions for further research include exploring Dewey's work and its relation to social capital, particularly through Bourdieu's perspective. It may also be worthwhile to trace back to Durkheim and extend the study to other sectors of education.Bourdieu has extensively written about universities (Bourdieu and Collier, 1988), but there is a need to update this work due to the perceived "crisis" in the higher

education field. There is a potential for Bourdieuvian analysis using field theory, inspired by media studies in examining the boundaries between fields and meta-capital. The focus should shift from the issues of lack of social capital to the problems associated with an excess of it in the wrong hands. Additionally, there should be more exploration of institutional properties that either facilitate or hinder social capital. I am interested in expanding Bourdieu's work by considering the interaction between cultural capital and social capital in the field of higher education, and the potential for higher education to form connections and gaps with other fields, fostering "bridging" rather than "binding" social capital. This relates to Lyda Hanifan's current efforts to reshape education for societal purposes.

- Bourdieu and Collier (1988)
- Balatti, J. and I. Falk (2001). "Socioeconomic Contributions of Adult Learning to Community: A social capital perspective." Wider Benefits of Learning: Understanding and monitoring the effects of adult learning, Lisbon, Portugal, European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA).
- Baron, S., J. Field, et al. (2001). [No information provided about this reference]Social capital: critical positions. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Barrett, R. (2004). "A reappraisal of Christopher Winch, 2000, Education, work and societal capital: towards a new construct of vocational instruction, London: Routledge." Studies in Philosophy and Education 23(23): 61-71. Becker, G. S. (1964). Human capital; a theoretical and empirical analysis, with particular mention to instruction. New York, National Bureau of Economic Research; distributed by Columbia University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1986). Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of instruction, Greenwood Press. Bourdieu, P. and J. S. Coleman (1991). Social theory for a changing society. Boulder,

New York, Westview Press; Russell Sage Foundation. Bourdieu, P. and P. Collier (1988). Homo academicus. Cambridge, Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell. Bourdieu, P. and L. J. D. Wacquant (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Coleman, J. (1989). "Social capital in the creative activity of human capital." American Journal of Sociology 94(Supplement): S95-S120. Coleman, J.S. (1990). Equality and accomplishment in instruction. Boulder, Westview Press. Dika, S.L. and K.Singh (2002). "Applications of societal capital in educational literature: a critical synthesis." Review of Educational Research 72(1): 31-60. Farr, J. (2004). "Social Capital: A Conceptual History." Political Theory 32(1): 6-33.The text includes references to various books and articles on the topic of social capital. These references are written in a citation format, highlighting the authors, titles, and publication details of each source. The sources cover a range of perspectives on social capital, including its relevance to economic growth, development, and vocational education. One of the sources specifically discusses the World Bank's role in depoliticizing development and social capital.The text below explores various publications on the topic of community and social capital. These include "Bowling entirely: the prostration and resurgence of American community" by Robert D. Putnam, "The Complementary Roles of Human and Social Capital" by Thomas Schuller, "The benefits of acquisition: the impact of instruction on wellness, household life, and societal capital" also by Thomas Schuller, "The part of Catholic schools to the Victorian economic system and community: a study to the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria" by Peter Sheehan, "Social capital and the reproduction of inequality: information webs among Mexican-origin high school pupils" by Roberto D. Stanton-Salazar and Stephen M. Dornbusch,

"Education, Work and Social Capital: Towards a New Conception of Vocational Education" by Chris Winch, and "Social Capital and Economic Development: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis and Policy Framework" by Michael Woolcock.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds